UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa
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IRIN Update No. 555 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 27 November 1998)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Paris summit focuses on DRC
The Congo crisis has taken centre stage at the Franco-African summit opening today (Friday) in Paris, news media report. Focusing on peace and security issues, the two-day gathering brings together 49 African countries and 34 heads of state, among them those directly involved in the Congo conflict. However, DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila today reiterated his insistence that there can be no substantive peace talks until Rwanda and Uganda withdraw their forces. According to AFP he also dismissed dialogue with the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) rebels.
French Cooperation Minister Charles Josselin stated that a solution to the conflict could be found in December. Speaking on French television before the summit opened, he said private conversations had indicated there could be negotiations or mediation next month. He gave no further details, AFP reported.
Rwanda says Kabila obstacle to peace
Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu told Reuters that Kabila was the obstacle to peace and urged him to hold talks. "We set no conditions, but we want negotiations between all the parties, both inside and outside [Congo], so we can have peace not only in Congo but in Rwanda." Bizimungu also said his country would push for international sanctions against DRC at the summit, Rwandan radio reported. Speaking in Kigali on Wednesday before leaving for Paris, he accused Kabila of genocide policies.
Summit chance for France to reassert itself in Africa
According to an analysis of the summit's prospects by Oxford Analytica, the event represents a major opportunity for France to restore its "diplomatic pre-eminence" in Africa. However, the analysis predicts France's attempts to rebuild its prestige in Central Africa will only be partially successful, although the failure of US initiatives to end the DRC war leaves the field open for Paris to regain influence. The conflicting interests of the players in the DRC conflict "in particular the confused policy objectives of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe" make an early French-brokered breakthough improbable, Oxford Analytica said.
1,000 more recruits join rebellion
The rebel leader in northern Equateur province, Jean-Pierre Bemba, has said 1,000 new recruits have joined his Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC), AFP reported. He said they arrived in the rebel-controlled town of Bumba after walking for days to join the insurgency. AFP said leaders of the main rebel group, the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), were also present in Bumba where they called for a common front to "fight dictatorship in Congo".
BURUNDI: Two soldiers killed in clashes
Two soldiers were killed and two other injured on Wednesday during clashes with rebels in the southwest Rumonge area, the Agence burundaise de presse reported yesterday. It said fighting broke out after the rebels abducted two civilians near Rumonge town. Several weapons were captured, but rebel casualties were unknown, the news agency added.
Net Press news agency resumes work
The Burundian news agency Net Press, which was closed down by the authorities in March, this week resumed operations. Net Press told IRIN today the regulating body, Conseil national de la communication, deemed the closure illegal and they were given permission to start work again on 17 November. The first despatch was issued on Wednesday, Net Press said. On 27 March, the Burundian authorities closed down the news agency and interrogated its director, Claude Kavumbagu, over an article on the seizure of an opposition FRODEBU publication.
In a despatch received today by IRIN, Net Press spoke of serious divisions within the mainly-Tutsi UPRONA party after soldiers stopped supporters of ousted chairman, Charles Mukasi, from entering party headquarters for a central committee meeting yesterday.
Nairobi, 27 November 1998, 15:00 gmt
Date: Fri, 27 Nov 1998 17:57:48 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 555 for 27 Nov 1998.11.27
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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